Will Jeremy Swayman get a Game 3 start for the Bruins?


“He’s gonna make decisions that are going to help the team. And all I can say is I can’t wait for Friday.”

Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman watches from the bench during the third period of Game 2 against the Florida Panthers of a second-round series of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla.
Jeremy Swayman was pulled from Wednesday’s game in the third period. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers did the unthinkable on Wednesday night.

They made Jeremy Swayman look mortal between the pipes.

At least, that’s how the optics presented themselves in Game 2 at Amerant Bank Arena — with Swayman relegated to Boston’s bench after a fourth Panthers skater found twine on his watch.

It was the first time this postseason that Swayman relinquished more than two goals in a game — shattering the growing sentiment that he had augmented from poised goalie to an unshakable D-zone cheat code in the span of a few weeks.

But a glance at the lopsided score sheet doesn’t tell the full story of Swayman’s role in Boston’s 6-1 loss.

Nor does the sight of Linus Ullmark in net over the final 18:32 of Wednesday’s third-period brouhaha stand as any concrete evidence that the veteran will be the first goalie on the ice for Game 3 on Friday night.

Because on a miserable night when the Bruins were bruised and beaten by a re-engaged Panthers team, their goalie was the least of their problems.

“No, the workload hasn’t played into Jeremy Swayman’s [play],” Jim Montgomery said of Swayman’s heavy reps. “The workload had played into our effort tonight. We didn’t have juice tonight.”

A five-goal loss likely would have been far steeper had it not been for Swayman  — especially in a game where Boston’s puck carriers handled the biscuit-like hand grenades.  Those repeated fumblings had Swayman catching all of the resulting shrapnel in the crease.

After Eetu Luostarinen’s tap-in tally just 1:28 into the third period, Montgomery offered some words of encouragement to Swayman as he made his way down the tunnel.

“I trust that guy with my life,” Swayman said of his quick chat with Montgomery. “He’s gonna make decisions that are going to help the team. And all I can say is I can’t wait for Friday.”

Montgomery had little reason to harp on Swayman’s fortitude in net, not with the miscues piling up in front of him throughout Wednesday’s sloppy showing. 

“Swayman was terrific,” Montgomery added. “I thought about taking him out at 3-1, going into the third. And then when the fourth goal went in, I was like, ‘I’m taking him out now.’ He made two great saves before [Luostarinen’s goal] went in.”

Of Florida’s four goals scored against Swayman, two were generated off of rough shifts from Charlie McAvoy — with the stickless defenseman unable to tie up Aleksander Barkov’s rebound strike at 9:49 in the second period before screening his goalie on Gustav Forsling’s buzzer beater (a play generated off a failed clear by Brad Marchand).

Miscommunication and a defensive breakdown led to an uncovered Steven Lorentz redirecting a Brandon Montour shot past Swayman for Florida’s opening strike at 1:56 in the second, while Luostarinen’s haymaker capped off a sequence that the Bruins initially thought was icing, and ended with Brandon Carlo coughing up the puck along the endboards.

Swayman was far from the reason why the Bruins now return to TD Garden stuck in a 1-1 series deadlock. But will that be enough to steer Boston away from turning to Ullmark in Game 3?

 Don Sweeney noted before Boston’s playoff push that “performance and results will dictate” any changes to the Bruins’ goalie rotation during this run. That was validated by Swayman earning seven consecutive starts en route to a gutsy first-round triumph over the Maple Leafs, and a 38-save gem against Florida on Monday night.

Wednesday’s loss would seemingly signal that it’s Ullmark’s turn to try and stem the tide. It’s a contingency plan that most teams would love to have available — especially with the reigning Vezina Trophy winner sporting a .947 save percentage over three appearances against Florida during regular-season action.

Rest is no issue for Ullmark, who last started a game on April 22 vs. Toronto.

It’s a results-based business in the NHL, especially at this juncture of the league calendar. But on a night where his skaters largely left him out to dry, should Swayman be the one to get the hook in what has all the makings of a pugnacious rematch on Causeway Street?

After Wednesday’s loss, Swayman’s save percentage has dipped … to a stellar .943 over eight games. According to Natural Stat Trick, Swayman leads all playoff goalies in goals saved above average at 9.14. New York’s Igor Shesterkin ranks second in the same category — at 4.33 goals saved above average.

Swayman has done little to persuade the Bruins to make a change — even if the final score on Wednesday might tell a different story.

“One game at a time is all I’m worried about,” Swayman noted. “Body feels great. I’m very lucky to be in this position. And I can’t wait till Friday.”

Whether he spends Friday on the bench or back in net remains to be seen.

#Jeremy #Swayman #Game #start #Bruins

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